Outpost Transmission digital / Bandcamp

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Outpost Transmission digital / Bandcamp

Post by markus »


Another 808 State Friday report.
Its Bandcamp Friday and I would like to shine a light on our 2002 album

Outpost Transmission

https://state808.bandcamp.com/album/out ... ansmission

The title says a lot about how 808 State felt positioned in the early 2000s
It had been 5 years since the last great effort of the ZTT years and what many people
think of as 808 ’s magnum opus “Don Solaris”
In this time ZTT records had gone through some changes stepping away from their Warner Bros connection .
808 88 98 (in 1998) was a greatest hits campaign and felt like a summing up of our 10 year existence at that point . If you spend an hour with that comp ,it answers a lot of questions about why we were not the easiest band to market .We were ever changing shape shifters.
808 State operated like a test kitchen rather than a restaurant in the dance genre .
We as adults were all getting twitchy ,we had all become parents and there was less of a gang mentality with in the group ,side projects were sprouting , money was uncertain.
Paul Morley came up to Manchester to see if we wanted to extend our contract with ZTT ,we had completed our contractual obligations. I think we felt we fancied our chances out there on more of an 50/50indie deal .ZTT looked indie from the outside but played through Warners and all its power and unfavourable percentages.
So we took on new management with grand talk and optimism , We had a lot of meetings and settled into talks with an ambitious new label “Circus Records” who had had some success with a triple Magnetic Fields album .Triple albums ,theres my Acileise heel right there!.
Circus had a lot of energy (some of it natural) and enthusiasm. We drew up a restrained budget and started to book time in a modest studio called Testa Rossa (I know !) behind a petrol station on the A6 in Longsight MCR - Darren had grown up in Longsight and I had lived around these parts for many years. We had our first 808 offices on a business park on the same stretch of Stockport Rd in the early 90s.The studio had been built by Folk singer /comedian Mike Harding in the 1970s I had been in there over the years and its best know output is probably Voodoo Ray when Gerald worked there in the late 80s. It was a modest building but it had an up to date Pro Tools rig ,having upgraded from ADATs -remember ADATs ? a multi track format that involved recording to VHS video tapes.
There is a section of the MC Tunes Documentary” Nish Clash & Banging” where he has been bin bagged and is living in Testa Rossa with his dog called Ajax - Thats a fragrance that hung in the air still in 2001.
The original album cover for Outpost Transmission is by John Walsh and is simply a pair of old walkman headphones sprayed over with paint ,though I can never not see it as an Alien Baby.
The CD had a naked cover in that the Art combined the onboard printing of the disc and the plastic tray as a puzzle .The booklet was hidden behind the tray ,many people never discovered it
Many copies were returned as faulty as if the sleeve was missing . An explainitary sticker was added ,which ruined the joke.The back cover was something I made in the freezer out of jelly ,cabbage & seeds ,the idea was to reflect the colour and organic nature of the music beyond the ghostly front cover. Some early promos were in hand sewn embossed pouches with butterfly logo tape ..The vinyl edition was a two piece set. The U.S version and The Japanese version had different extra tracks ,all now combined in the digital version. See them all here:

https://www.808state.com/discogs/808pag ... outpo2.htm

“606” is the first track on the record and you are immediately hit by a choir courtesy of a collaboration with the group Simian.(later Simian Mobile Disco) .James Ford was someone I’d met at a jam night at Kolieda -James was a Chemistry student at UMIST and we ended up doing various music projects together in the late 90s that including my progressive /jazz big band /club night TOOLSHED , and Paddy Steers excellent bedroom orchestra “Homelife “. James started being one of 808 State’s live drummers at this time along with Paddy who played bass on our live shows.
Simian was James’s main band ,they all lived in one student house in Didsbury as if they were The Monkees. The drum sound is a TR606 drum box overloaded into an Akai sampler giving a crunchy presence. A bass guitar riff plays backwards ,I had a Russian Big Muff fuzz pedal which had just been reissued,it was the go to ketchup at the time. The high guitar riff is a Chinese Moon Lute (another Ray Mann shop purchase) .Simon Lord sings all the parts ,but the rest of Simian worked on the lyrics and vocal arrangement .
CHOPSUMWONG - One of the defining tracks of the album ,trying to chase down textures and sounds that emitted a preternatural light and optimism has always been part of the 808 sound.
I gravitate to brief traces of it in other peoples recordings and always wanted a bigger dose. I felt happy with the sound world we achieved here. A lot of it was created by sampling a mini Telecaster guitar in made up open tunings ,the twang is cut off so you just get the shimmer. One of the key synths of the album is a Waldorf Wave , a posh wavetable synth that could be quite glassy (I just remembered coming across a PPG synth in this studio in the mid 80s , it had a cathode ray monitor and cost more than the building) , There is the real vibraphone in the mix and an old CR78 drum machine that we could nt synchronise at the time ,so its used as texture and the tempo just snakes about off the grid.
This was an idea borrowed from the Miles Davis album Pangea where Mtume used a similar drum box in such a way .Jupiter 8 arpeggios flutter by .The breakbeat is 3 step and the kicks have got their own little sub song going on . It has all these layers working independently to form an eco system,
WHEATSTRAW - Again chasing light and optimism ,its a stomper based around a string arpeggio that waves in the sunlight .the song feels like a marching funk parade and in fact has a vibe similar to Prince ’s “Mountains” Sequenced bass guitar sounds fed through a Dr Q pedal to give it the Wah A Layer of developing sour ARP Odyssey stops things from getting too syrupy ,detuning as we march on up the to a cliff top , and a tempo change - it climaxes into a dance circle -something pagan in white robes ,centrifugal.
BOOGIEMAN- Fractured funk work out based around chopped up breaks and hours of programming ,The old “find the one of the beat “ game .
The original Boogie Man sample was from some in between song banter from a live Rahsaan Roland Kirk record.
I think we tried to clear it but we had just had an experience clearing a sample for Prebuild that took 3 years . So instead the record company knew some one who recreated it for us for a fee. I think Daz had a go ,but we used the bought one.
More Bass guitar and Big Muff -that little Fender Music Man bass Id picked up on tour got a lot of use ,inspired by the fuzzy exploits of the Beastie Boys ,Thank you Yauch.
We had a number of attempts to play this live at the time ,it was a tricky one.
An ARP 2600 synth chugs along in odd lengths.
ROUNDBUM MARY - Straight back in the pocket to balance out the previous track -Most of this track is a Nord synth -which was a new acquisition ,used it for drums a lot ,also the squelchy bass and the harpsichord sound which gives it a Munsters go to the disco vibe. Somewhere theres an 808 ’s campest beats compilation and this would be on it . Growing up on early house music it is harking back to the source. It struts with some wrist !
LEMON SOUL - Back in the late 90s Elbow were yet to get their big break and were familiar faces in the nightlife around the Northern Quarter of Manchester. In fact most of Elbow worked behind the bar at The Roadhouse. The music came first on this track ,it sat there like a naked piano ballad , It seemed like Guy Garvey would be a nice fit , but I think it took a journalist to mention that he was a bit of an 808 fan , you forget how shy we all were with each other. I seemed to remember Guy loosing his lyric book on a train just before we recorded this - But luckily it had just been returned. Guy had some ideas about using electronics on his voice and he brought some gadgets with him (A Kaos pad maybe) that you can hear in the mix ,etherial voices up in the ceiling. The track started out with the CR78 drum box - preset rhythm ,basket like texture . The bass is classic minimoog ,room for its 3 oscillator purr. The flexing bendy synths are ARP2600 .
There is a layer of kick & snare that was a child’s drum set ,used that floppy dic a lot at the time ,excellent resonant kick drum.
SUN TOWER - I see it as a sister track to Chopsumwong-same intent -alien light to get lost in
Tempo grids that are stacked ,suspended section , all this was now easier to do on Pro Tools.
It freed up the tyranny of the tempo. Again it uses a lot of processed guitar ,ARP Odyssey was a go to synth for its citric fizz -Mine had gone to the menders so this Oddy I had borrowed off Crispy Ambulance -We used to share a rehearsal space back in the 70s and I remember the day they bought this synth ,a thing of awe and possibilities ,a sacred object . A Moog Opus 3 is part of the organ textures .There is some pocket trumpet squiggles played two octaves up with a whammy pedal. Chippy little drums are particularly nice.We were always trying to find an new identity in the drums, it was difficult amongst either drum & bass or micro beat trends of the time.
DISSADIS- I m really proud of this piece , it has a nice weave of musical lines and textures
There was decent in the group about including it on the record , The other guys thinking it was a bit too “WOMAD” -I guess thats the 3/4 time signature and dulcimer like Waldorf synth /astrobahn lead. May be you can hear it as Hungarian folk music ,but to me its pure electronica.The writing process at the time was still out of the box - Meaning that all the computer did was sequence MIDI information and that was fed out to live synths and modules ,this allowed textural manipulation on the fly , you could switch parts to different synths at the flick of a switch . There was an abundance of writing some of which spilled over into my Massonix project , this track could have easily gone on to Sub Tracks .
BENT . Built around some brush drum programming and tympani ,this immediately gives it a Lalo Shifrin vibe-Building on that are some deliberately sour lines played on Prophecy flute,wavestation piano and telecaster guitar through a Leslie effect. Upright baseline from the Prophecy and a big crawling fuzzy sub bass from the mini moog.The filthy devil cough I think more Moog fed through a GT5 guitar processor . Looking for a cop show.
So this is half way through the album - Ill do part 2 another time as it wont fit in one post easily
It would be great if you could support our Bandcamp page .I d like to thank everyone who has made it out to 808 State’s Autumn Tour -Very much appreciate being able to be sharing music with you all.

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Re: Outpost Transmission digital / Bandcamp

Post by markus »

Published by Graham Massey · 4 Feb 2022:

As Bandcamp Friday has returned this month I thought I would complete the 808 Friday notes to “Outpost Transmission “ in an effort to pedal this sometimes overlooked 808 album -You might need to scroll back to November 5th 2021 to read part one . https://state808.bandcamp.com/
A brief summary is that 808 State ‘s Outpost Transmission came out in 2002 and we recorded it in a modest studio in Manchester called Testa Rossa Studios.
This establishment in a one story industrial unit behind a petrol station in Longsight used to be called Moonraker Studios . It was always a low budget studio but that can throw up occasional hits - Gerald’s VooDoo Ray was born here ,The Dust Junkeys had it as a base ,Moonraker was built by Mike Harding ,who you might not know ,but his Folk /Comedy records resulted in a wall of gold discs from the 70s .
Join me 10 tracks into this 18 track version.

Souflex - “How strange the change from major to minor” The opening chord sequence begins on Waldorf Microwave ,Fat jutting chords from the Jupiter 8 Synth ,Portamento eerie lines I think are from a Vintage Keys unit, they climb and bend with the chords ,fruity Juno 106 bleeps come on and off the beat. A filtered drum storm before the drums bust in swinging! Then a shift to set up the next section which is a strings arrangement that funks off the beat with string bass and cellos building tension in a descending odd meter . Overplaying this is a high string line made from ascending 4ths gives way to a gnarly melody dancing elliptically above the bass
Then the return of the opening section ,bringing climbing optimism with the odd chord of over the shoulder doubt ,dropping into the coda of uncertain mystery . It's a nice piece but to me the original demo had a little more natural flow , unfortunately we had a hard drive crash in 1999 that
meant only a cassette of the music remained in which to try and reconstruct from .We lost some good ones and there were some tears and anguish.Bloody computers!

Crossword - This is an odd track ,conceived as an instrumental but chosen by Alabama 3 as the one they wanted to work on as a collaboration .Darren & Andrew had a regular DJ slot at a place in Brixton at this time ,The night was run by mates of The Alabama 3 ,they had become mates with Wayne & Larry and invited them up to Manchester to work with us on a track in our home studio in Ducie House .
I ve just remembered we had left our spacious Room 101 on the first floor and were now up in the attic on the 5th floor you can see that room in The Grape Tapes near the beginning , Lamb had it for a while ,next door was Barry from Evolution ,kicking out the hits! It was cramped and to hot in the summer ,I was grumpy about it ,Anyway I ve never met Wayne & Larry , Darren drops them off
and announces that he and Andy are off to DJ somewhere that weekend ,leaving me to figure this out . I thought they had prepped some words but when Larry starts intoning some sleeve nots off a John Coltrane album he had found I begin to think it's going to be a long weekend.I m also confused that he switches from Scottish accent to the deep south of America. I reject this idea and we have a break and go to Dry bar .They want to borrow a few hundred quid (an advance )? After emptying my daily ATM facility they disappear for the entire weekend! I don't know how Daz talked me back into the collaboration but they recorded the vocals remotely in London and we made an arrangement around them. The main sequencer is an old Roland System 100 module CV gated to an ARP 2600 .There is a lot of guitar atmospherics ,I was using a GT5 digit multi FX at the time
loads of pitch and ring modulation & feedback . The drums are pretty odd ,a low end boxing match of kick drums between a TR909 and a Revolution 309 machines . There is a lot of 309 on this album ,it was like a drum synthesiser so you could build sounds and tune them easily ,could be a bit soft to use on its own. The snare is 309 ,cross rhythms adding disorientation , The lyrics may contain drug references - Wayne & Larry always are a double act ,so different characters appear in the song. I don't know why but I get a Withnail and I vibe.
Odd meters are also reflected in the big Moog riff that was always a nightmare to try and play live ,you had to count 7 and a half beats followed by 3 and a bit ,some King Crimson shit ,I was probably just being belligerent but the over all effect is chewy in a good way . Not a radio single

Dark exotica ,I think it started from the pensive conga loop that Daz brought in . Built a melody from 2 bass clarinets and my real vibraphone ,There are some Jupiter 8 arpeggios off in the distance ,then the ascending 4th again lead to a bulbous fuzzy minimoog bass line (played through a memory man chorus effect) - Pretty much a film noir Henry Mancini vibe if he had been into analogue synths .

The main melodies use a patch made from the Astroban ,I ve probably banged on about this instrument before ,it's a one stringed instrument (monochord) with a pick up at each end-It gives interesting differential overtones ,My Dad made it in his shed ,its very precious. Using a similar major /minor question and answer vibe to Soulflex . The Nord lead played the analogue chords and Minimoog is the bass ,The drums are 909 and 309 with some Pearl syncussion (disco drums)
Has an oriental flavour .

Yo Yo - Has a backbone of Maestro Rhythm King drums -Long melody played on Moog Opus 3 and a Bentley Ace Tone Organ ,Simple 2 note bass from the Mini Moog -There are a number of guitar parts including guitar synth from the GT5 ,Some Waldorf Wave shimmering away with arpeggios and counter melodies-All those 70s Miles Davis albums coming to the surface.

Quincy’s Lunch - We had originally recorded this track for the magazine Jockey Slut’s 7 inch label
“Slut Smalls” in a bit of a hurry . We tried to improve the mix here but kept the arrangement ,Im not sure if it did improve it as the bass is perhaps gone wooly rather than harder
Again using the patented Mini Moog through Memory Man Chorus sound.
This was included on the Japanese version of the album as an extra track
We still love playing this live these days , Always near the end of the set ,one of our bangers!

Long Orange (Testa) -Another extra track was a remix of Long Orange (see notes for State To State 2) Started off as an advert we were working on for Orange phones.

Brown Sauce -An extra track for the U.S. version of the album - Bass Guitar is played and cut up into the sampler ,we were still using Akai S3000 at this point ,A lot of Nord and Jupiter 8 on this tune ,I think I can hear ARP Odyssey as well. More Waldorf Wave doing its glassy thing near the end. Bit of a B side -But B sides are a thing in my world.

Doctors & Nurses- Another extra recorded especially for the U.S. version . Based around a 2 note bass line and a horse riding beat ,the weave is very trance like It has a diminished synth motif that peppers it up contrasting with the big panoramic chords -Its called Doctors and Nurses as the flute line reminded us of the theme to the Australian soap opera of the same name . The flute I bought from ‘On The Eighth Day “ when it was a hippy shop in the 70s ,Its been on so many records over the years some instruments are like good luck charms and I like the continuity of them
being a personal toolkit. Again it becomes something else in 808 States live set as a vehicle for pulling people in to another head space ,loving getting lost when playing over a great PA system

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Re: Outpost Transmission digital / Bandcamp

Post by PeteB »

Aussie Soap was Young Doctors ;)
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Re: Outpost Transmission digital / Bandcamp

Post by Mark808 »

Loving the notes Graham. OT is a very underrated album. I love Dissadis and Souflex. The whole album has dark undertones balanced with moments where the light shines in. Also not strictly OT tracks but Quincy's and Long Orange are 2 of my favourites, 808 in full on banging-mode.
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Joined: 09 Apr 2002 01:00
Location: mcr

Re: Outpost Transmission digital / Bandcamp

Post by graham »

Ah Pete , you are correct
The Young Doctors opening titles (1982)
Daz pointed the similarity out and named that one. I of coarse never watched day time Australian soaps - (well I did used to watch The Sulivans when I was working at a golf club one year.
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